At the time, Roxy, 9yrs old and her brother Diesel, 7 yrs old were actually #0001 and #0002 dogs Hearts Alive officially rescued in Feb of 2014.
Up to that point we’d only gotten our food bank, Kendall’s Kupboard, going. We had just incorporated late August 2013 and didn’t even have our 501c3 yet.
I saw a FB post from an acquaintance along with a photo. It was one of those post that checked you in the gut.. I called the number on the post. “Hi, Kelly. This is Christy Stevens. Remember me from Little Friends?” We had run into each other volunteering at The Little Friends Foundation. I’d remembered her, of course. Who could forget the lady with the big smile and her awesome dog Pele, endlessly walking all the shelter dogs attached to her wheelchair? She remembered me.. yay!
I told her Hearts Alive wasn’t actually rescuing dogs yet but we were doing owner support.. maybe there was a way we could help, but I didn’t know how.
This was to become our first and very fateful collaboration. A relator friend of Kelly’s had a new client, Jonathan, who was willing to help maybe foster one. But when the relator and Jonathan went over to see the dogs, the conditions they were living in were so bad that he couldn’t leave either behind. The photo of the dogs at the door was really not a typical day for Roxy and Diesel. They usually were not even allowed access to the backyard.. Kept locked in wire kennels outside had been their fate for years. Both were horribly damaged from the sun. Diesel’s nose was ulcerated and looked like it was disintegrating and Roxy was full of tumors. Their skin and ears and eyes were infected… they were in bad shape. One of Roxy’s tumors was so large and deep within her shoulder muscle, it had changed her gait. They both needed the vet first and Diesel needed neutered. They left with Roxy and Diesel and we began to work on surgery appointments. Diesel came back to Jonathan’s first, his neuter surgery was standard, but Roxy took a few weeks to recover from her tumor removals.. not great news as they discovered a couple different forms of cancer.. MCT and Squamous cell… drains and stitches needed to go before she joined her brother. We set up a makeshift run inside at my work and she stayed there and night and enjoyed the staff during the day until she went back to Jonathan.
Both were so damn loving and thrilled to have any attention at all.. They had zero manners and were big powerful dogs so quite tough to handle for Jonathan. He was a small man to start with but he was also disabled and had a 2 yr old little boy. He had tried to walk them around the block but ended up getting drug through the rocks and down the sidewalk about 20 feet. Those weren’t the only factors that made Jonathan’s house not an ideal solution.. all he could offer was his back yard. It would be an improvement from their last accommodations for sure… but still. It bought us some time and luckily it was a nice time of year at the beginning of February.
We got a giant insulated dog house over there and lots of blankets and went to work on finding a new foster home or forever home. We mistakenly networked them as a bonded pair.. not really understanding yet whether that was true. We were learning many lessons the hard way.
The cool weather didn’t last long and the early warm spring was making us feel panicked for a solution to get these dogs out of the elements. With no interest at all in this older/hyper pair with skin and cancer conditions, I started looking into a plan B. We’d visit them often, giving baths and working on leash and people skills. We’d all fallen hard in love with goofy Diesel and Roxy’s expressive face and big eyebrow. They were getting chunky and we tried to work with Johnathan on portion control.. but he had the idea that they’d stay nice dogs and not eat his family if he provided ample food.. Oh my goodness. Now nick named Heavy D and Foxy Roxy, we were really needing to get them out of there.
The boarding option quotes revealed themselves to be extremely expensive.. Jeez, One month for two dogs would practically pay for a whole house……. Heeeyyyy… There’s an idea!
And so became the HAVLV rescue house. At the end of March, we rented one around the corner from my home. For two months it was Roxy and Diesel’s giant dog house with a giant dog door so they could choose to be in or out. I slept there with them most nights and we had volunteers begin to come by to work with them during the day on some basic chill out skills. How exciting! Volunteers! Roxy and Diesel were good kids and never tore up their couch and rarely had any potty accidents, but I couldn’t keep this up forever and they needed more companionship. So I thought.. let’s see if we can help a person too.
Noah’s Animal House was one of the first orgs we reached out to getting Kendall’s Kupboard organized. We would give a 6 month food scholarship to any lady leaving the program with their pet. I reached out to the manager at the time and asked if she knew of anyone to recommend becoming a live in foster mom. “Oh my gosh, Christy! I know just the person and she is in a really bad way right now” She gave me the number to Patty’s Obama phone.
When I picked Patty up downtown the next night.. She had already spent two nights on the street. She’d run out services at Shade Tree. They can only help for so long. She had stayed on the bench in front of Clark County detention center during the night, feeling it was the safest place because of all the patrol cars going in and out.
56 yrs old, cancer and domestic abuse survivor.. no fair. She had two garbage bags of belongings. Patty’s false teeth, her breast prosthetics, and all her toiletries had been stolen when she took her last shower at Shade Tree.
I only had a big sectional couch to offer her at the moment because I didn’t think it would happen so fast.. but she was grateful and we stayed up talking most of the night. Turns out we had met before.. when we were first making food deliveries to Noah’s, she and her cat “Puppy” were in cuddle room. That cat could do tricks like a dog.. He was very special. Puppy had gotten sick and died shortly after that.
Patty was and is admittedly a cat lady, and much later she told me a bit nervous about the big dogs.. especially Roxy.. she had this sideways glance that every noticed and she made you wonder.. is she ok with me? We all learned in short order, that it was more of a “come hither and let me love you long time” kind of look.
Eventually we got Patty settled in with a ton of help from the community. Furniture and kitchen items came pouring in. She and I worked over the next several months to get her medically back on track, her disability was finally approved, found an angel dentist to make her a new set of teeth, and got new prosthetics. She told me she felt human again and Roxy and Diesel were absolutely benefiting from having a foster mom with them all the time.
A crazy amount of living, loving, and rescuing happened in the last 3 yrs because of the rescue house. A few other little dogs came and went and a whole bunch of cats.
Diesel was adopted into a loving family after a year with us and lived a beautiful life of belonging until his cancer caught up with him just a few short months ago. Gone far to soon.
Roxy never was adopted and basically became what Patty affectionately referred to her as The Bouncer at the Cat House. She loved her kitties and most days you’d find her lounging on the couch with a few snuggled up. She had about 4 more surgeries during this time to help control the growth of tumors and we had regular maintenance on the skin cancers, trying to zap them before they grew into something more sinister. She was a champ and I have to say that she became one of the most solid and wonderful companion dogs I’ve ever met.
Patty moved on late last year. She is living in Idaho now with her brother. She adopted one of the precious kittens she bottle fed during her time with us. We are forever grateful for her time with us and the dedication and care she gave to the animals as well as her special friend and incredible volunteer, Linda, for helping in any way she could. Spencer and Grace took over the rescue house when Patty left. Roxy welcomed them with kisses and began enjoying many more outings with this young active couple… loving every minute of it.
In early February, Roxy began giving us some concern and was vomiting a bit.. Many vet visits with blood tests and imaging weren’t revealing much, but different food and prescriptions were attempted to remedy. She lost her interest in food and hundreds of attempts were made from broth and beyond to get nutrients in her. She would occasionally allow us to prevail, although I think it was only because she knew we wanted it so much.
She was still the same sweet and determined girl, although shrinking in size every week.. .still game to go for rides, to the park, and even enjoyed time at the lake. Her dear friend, Traci, came and took Roxy to the park for a special photo shoot..
Last week, we thought we saw some disturbing signs which prompted us to call Blanch Pierce, our amazing vet friend and angel to animals. I trust her completely to help me decide if it’s time to save a dog from a pending crisis or if there is maybe a hail Mary left to hazard.
She examined her and she decided we could try a new approach. Everything would be injectable so she didn’t have to eat a pill to get relief. Roxy was a pincushion that day and the perfect patient. We hoped with everything in us we could give her some more quality and bring back her desire to eat. That was exactly what happened.
Starting small with baby food meat on a spoon and within a day she was cleaning the jars herself and getting some energy back. It lasted for 5 wonderful days.
The call was made and Blanch was to us with in two hours. Our beautiful girl gave kisses and her signature sideways glance, as we all loved on her. She luckily still felt like a hamburger smelled good enough to taste as she was given her anesthetic injection. So peacefully she slipped into sleep. I told her to go find Big D so she could boss him around like she liked to do.. tell him we love him. I thanked her for what she did for all of us. For touching my heart, for giving me my best friend Kelly, for making me desperate enough to be brave, for saving Patty, for being kind to all the kitties, for teaching me how to rescue…
Our residential program for Hearts Alive Village has been called a couple of things.. but from here forward it will be named Roxy’s Place. She was the reason it began and she gave us the best years of her life there. It will remain her Legacy. Look for a FB page dedicated to this program’s efforts. Thank you for taking the time to read. There is so much more I could have written but I just wanted you to know.. she was here .. she helped to shape who we’ve become.. and we will miss her everyday.